Turkey and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation: Part 3

The Raise of Nagorno-Karabakh Issue in the OIC

After a four-day war in April, Armenian public’s attention was drawn on the adoption of resolutions on Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the creation of a contact group by the 13th OIC Summit, due to which we now reflect on the Artsakh issue within the framework of this analysis. Below we will try to present the attitude of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation towards Karabakh conflict and Turkish involvement in this issue.

Thus, on March 13-14, 2008, the resolution № 10/11 on “The aggression of Republic of Armenia aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan” was adopted during the OIC Summit in Dakar, by which the organization condemned the violation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and the annexation of the territory’s 20% by Armenia, and the actions against Azerbaijani civilians within Azerbaijan’s occupied territory were characterized as a crime against humanity. It reaffirmed the № 21/1010 resolution adopted at 10th OIC Summit in 2003, particularly the provision that called for the implementation of the resolutions №822, 853, 874 and 884 of the UN Security Council. The content of the resolution №10/11 was repeated in №10/37 adopted at the 37th ICC annual session of the organization’s Foreign Ministers Council in Dushanbe. The document consisted of three resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the first of which related to the political problems of Armenia qualified as an aggressor party, the next one discussed financial and economic assistance provided by the OIC member states to victims of the aggression and the third resolution condemned the destruction of Islamic monuments in the historical territory of Azerbaijan.

It was repeatedly stated in all these resolutions that the OIC and its member states should take the necessary measures to protect the interests of Azerbaijan at their mission of UN and other foreign countries and to promote a “fair” solution of the issue. In addition, they called the UN Security Council to recognize the fact that Armenia is an aggressor party. The OIC member states must refrain from providing any kind of assistance, especially military support to Armenia, as well as prevent a third state’s arms supply from their territory.

In fact, the OIC has become the only organization that officially qualifies the Republic of Armenia as an aggressor state. Taking this into account, Azerbaijan is trying to deepen relations with the OIC. If prior to Ihsanoglu’s governance Azerbaijan did not have an influential authority within the organization, afterwards it has been and is being supported by Turkey. Ihsanoglu’s interview given to “Trend” news agency, in which Turkish politician highlights the fact that Azerbaijan has most actively participated within the framework of the organization since 2005, makes it particularly obvious. According to him: “The OIC was very pleased with Azerbaijan’s election to the UN Security Council and indeed the country’s developed relations with the organization contributed to this status.”

After the session of OIC Foreign Ministers in 2010 Nagorno-Karabakh issue was included in the OIC agenda as a result of endeavors of Turkey and Azerbaijan: it was to be continuously put on the discussion table at the OIC meetings.

Within the framework of the OIC, the latest initiative of Turkish-Azerbaijani diplomacy was the raising of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue on the 13th Summit held in Istanbul on April 13-15, 2016. Iyad Amin Madani, the current OIC Secretary General, expressed his concern over the April four-day war, condemning the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia and reaffirmed the OIC’s position for the immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories. As for us, such rigid position was conditioned by the fact that the upcoming summit was organized by Turkey and aimed to please it.

The 16th and 17th paragraphs of the Summit declaration concerned Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The 16th paragraph reaffirmed, the resolutions adopted in previous years relating the issues of Armenia’s aggression, assistance to Azerbaijan, conflict solution in accordance with the UN’s 1993 resolutions.

Next paragraph states: “The Conference condemned in the strongest terms the continuous attacks carried out by the Armenian armed forces in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan as a result of which civilian population suffered, mosques have been attacked, praying people died and social and economic infrastructure have been destroyed. The Conference supported Azerbaijan’s efforts in defeating these attacks and defending its peaceful population. The Conference stressed the necessity to further increase pressure on Armenia by political, economic and other coercive means in order to bring the aggressor in compliance with the OIC demands and decisions.”

Such wording makes it clear that Turkish diplomacy wants to give religious overtones to Karabakh conflict, therefore to put the problem not only on the conflict resolution but also on the struggle for the protection of Islam and thus obtain the support of the Muslim countries. The political essence of this declaration essentially differs from previous resolutions by the fact that the name of the OSCE Minsk Group is not mentioned here at all, whereas in previous cases the conflict resolution was observed within the framework of the Minsk Group, particularly by applying the principles of Lisbon summit.

Besides, the declaration calls upon the member states to take effective measures, including those that do not allow the arms supply to Armenia on the level of national legislation, as well as in the territories of the member-states they will prevent activities of civic and legal individuals who are against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Thus, it can be implied from the above-discussed that with such step Turkey tries to create a mechanism for countermeasures in the parliaments of non-Muslim countries against Nagorno Karabakh’s possible recognition.

The formation of the contact group on the level of Foreign Ministers to deal with Karabakh issue is another tool, by which Turkey seeks to include influential Arabic countries in the conflict resolution according to 1993 UN resolutions.

Trying to assess Turkish-Azerbaijani diplomatic maneuvers, we should note that they occurred after the obvious failure of Azerbaijani attack in April. Therefore it was necessary for Azerbaijan to compensate the military failure in a diplomatic way. The OIC summit was such occasion, where Turkish side, with its anti-Armenian statements, wanted to show as if the whole Muslim world condemned Armenian side’s aggression and supported Azerbaijan. As for the contact group, we should remember that Turkey has always expressed a wish to join the OSCE Minsk Group. Since Turkey failed, it is now trying to assume the role of a mediator in Karabakh issue in this way and, by counteracting the OSCE Minsk Group, to give the conflict a more “efficient and fair solution”.

We believe that the transfer of these thunderous announcements to a practical level is not very realistic, by taking into account the fact that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has never achieved significant progress towards resolving conflicts. However, the Republic of Armenia should not overlook the importance of this organization on the international arena and especially in the Muslim world, but should continue cooperating and being engaged in diplomatic activities with those OIC Member States that can be counterbalance to Turkey within the organization.

To summarize our analysis, we can predict that Turkey’s ambitions to assume leadership positions will sooner or later lead to the resistance of other influential countries with similar ambitions (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran). Islamic active policy of Turkey is particularly alarming for Saudi Arabia. Being a leader in the Arabic world and the classical Islamic state governed by Shariah, Saudi Arabia has a very negative attitude towards the fact that Turkey is trying to export Turkish model of Islamic and secular states’ compatibility to Muslim countries and assume the role of mediator in the settlement of regional conflicts. In this case a question arises: why has Saudi Arabia adopted a restrained and expectant stance towards Turkey? Perhaps the reason is the well-known fact, that is: the existence of a common enemy brings the 2 opponents together. The temporary alliance of Saudi Arabia and Turkey significantly affected the civil wars and revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria. This alliance of the competitors will maintain until Syrian conflict is resolved, while on the other hand it aims to counter the Islamic Republic of Iran, which also aims to assume leadership positions in the Islamic world. The declaration of the 13th OIC summit even included Anti-Iranian paragraphs, in particular, that Iran supports international terrorism, in

The Raise of Nagorno-Karabakh Issue in the OIC

After a four-day war in April, Armenian public’s attention was drawn on the adoption of resolutions on Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the creation of a contact group by the 13th OIC Summit, due to which we now reflect on the Artsakh issue within the framework of this analysis. Below we will try to present the attitude of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation towards Karabakh conflict and Turkish involvement in this issue.

Thus, on March 13-14, 2008, the resolution № 10/11 on “The aggression of Republic of Armenia aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan” was adopted during the OIC Summit in Dakar, by which the organization condemned the violation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and the annexation of the territory’s 20% by Armenia, and the actions against Azerbaijani civilians within Azerbaijan’s occupied territory were characterized as a crime against humanity. It reaffirmed the № 21/1010 resolution adopted at 10th OIC Summit in 2003, particularly the provision that called for the implementation of the resolutions №822, 853, 874 and 884 of the UN Security Council. The content of the resolution №10/11 was repeated in №10/37 adopted at the 37th ICC annual session of the organization’s Foreign Ministers Council in Dushanbe. The document consisted of three resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the first of which related to the political problems of Armenia qualified as an aggressor party, the next one discussed financial and economic assistance provided by the OIC member states to victims of the aggression and the third resolution condemned the destruction of Islamic monuments in the historical territory of Azerbaijan.

It was repeatedly stated in all these resolutions that the OIC and its member states should take the necessary measures to protect the interests of Azerbaijan at their mission of UN and other foreign countries and to promote a “fair” solution of the issue. In addition, they called the UN Security Council to recognize the fact that Armenia is an aggressor party. The OIC member states must refrain from providing any kind of assistance, especially military support to Armenia, as well as prevent a third state’s arms supply from their territory.

In fact, the OIC has become the only organization that officially qualifies the Republic of Armenia as an aggressor state. Taking this into account, Azerbaijan is trying to deepen relations with the OIC. If prior to Ihsanoglu’s governance Azerbaijan did not have an influential authority within the organization, afterwards it has been and is being supported by Turkey. Ihsanoglu’s interview given to “Trend” news agency, in which Turkish politician highlights the fact that Azerbaijan has most actively participated within the framework of the organization since 2005, makes it particularly obvious. According to him: “The OIC was very pleased with Azerbaijan’s election to the UN Security Council and indeed the country’s developed relations with the organization contributed to this status.”

After the session of OIC Foreign Ministers in 2010 Nagorno-Karabakh issue was included in the OIC agenda as a result of endeavors of Turkey and Azerbaijan: it was to be continuously put on the discussion table at the OIC meetings.

Within the framework of the OIC, the latest initiative of Turkish-Azerbaijani diplomacy was the raising of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue on the 13th Summit held in Istanbul on April 13-15, 2016. Iyad Amin Madani, the current OIC Secretary General, expressed his concern over the April four-day war, condemning the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia and reaffirmed the OIC’s position for the immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories. As for us, such rigid position was conditioned by the fact that the upcoming summit was organized by Turkey and aimed to please it.

The 16th and 17th paragraphs of the Summit declaration concerned Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The 16th paragraph reaffirmed, the resolutions adopted in previous years relating the issues of Armenia’s aggression, assistance to Azerbaijan, conflict solution in accordance with the UN’s 1993 resolutions.

Next paragraph states: “The Conference condemned in the strongest terms the continuous attacks carried out by the Armenian armed forces in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan as a result of which civilian population suffered, mosques have been attacked, praying people died and social and economic infrastructure have been destroyed. The Conference supported Azerbaijan’s efforts in defeating these attacks and defending its peaceful population. The Conference stressed the necessity to further increase pressure on Armenia by political, economic and other coercive means in order to bring the aggressor in compliance with the OIC demands and decisions.”

Such wording makes it clear that Turkish diplomacy wants to give religious overtones to Karabakh conflict, therefore to put the problem not only on the conflict resolution but also on the struggle for the protection of Islam and thus obtain the support of the Muslim countries. The political essence of this declaration essentially differs from previous resolutions by the fact that the name of the OSCE Minsk Group is not mentioned here at all, whereas in previous cases the conflict resolution was observed within the framework of the Minsk Group, particularly by applying the principles of Lisbon summit.

Besides, the declaration calls upon the member states to take effective measures, including those that do not allow the arms supply to Armenia on the level of national legislation, as well as in the territories of the member-states they will prevent activities of civic and legal individuals who are against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Thus, it can be implied from the above-discussed that with such step Turkey tries to create a mechanism for countermeasures in the parliaments of non-Muslim countries against Nagorno Karabakh’s possible recognition.

The formation of the contact group on the level of Foreign Ministers to deal with Karabakh issue is another tool, by which Turkey seeks to include influential Arabic countries in the conflict resolution according to 1993 UN resolutions.

Trying to assess Turkish-Azerbaijani diplomatic maneuvers, we should note that they occurred after the obvious failure of Azerbaijani attack in April. Therefore it was necessary for Azerbaijan to compensate the military failure in a diplomatic way. The OIC summit was such occasion, where Turkish side, with its anti-Armenian statements, wanted to show as if the whole Muslim world condemned Armenian side’s aggression and supported Azerbaijan. As for the contact group, we should remember that Turkey has always expressed a wish to join the OSCE Minsk Group. Since Turkey failed, it is now trying to assume the role of a mediator in Karabakh issue in this way and, by counteracting the OSCE Minsk Group, to give the conflict a more “efficient and fair solution”.

We believe that the transfer of these thunderous announcements to a practical level is not very realistic, by taking into account the fact that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has never achieved significant progress towards resolving conflicts. However, the Republic of Armenia should not overlook the importance of this organization on the international arena and especially in the Muslim world, but should continue cooperating and being engaged in diplomatic activities with those OIC Member States that can be counterbalance to Turkey within the organization.

To summarize our analysis, we can predict that Turkey’s ambitions to assume leadership positions will sooner or later lead to the resistance of other influential countries with similar ambitions (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran). Islamic active policy of Turkey is particularly alarming for Saudi Arabia. Being a leader in the Arabic world and the classical Islamic state governed by Shariah, Saudi Arabia has a very negative attitude towards the fact that Turkey is trying to export Turkish model of Islamic and secular states’ compatibility to Muslim countries and assume the role of mediator in the settlement of regional conflicts. In this case a question arises: why has Saudi Arabia adopted a restrained and expectant stance towards Turkey? Perhaps the reason is the well-known fact, that is: the existence of a common enemy brings the 2 opponents together. The temporary alliance of Saudi Arabia and Turkey significantly affected the civil wars and revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria. This alliance of the competitors will maintain until Syrian conflict is resolved, while on the other hand it aims to counter the Islamic Republic of Iran, which also aims to assume leadership positions in the Islamic world. The declaration of the 13th OIC summit even included Anti-Iranian paragraphs, in particular, that Iran supports international terrorism, interferes with the affairs of the region’s and organizations’ member countries – Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Somalia.

Thus, the organization’s reforms have solved mainly superficial and structural problems in recent years. Nowadays the OIC is not able to regulate conflicts between its members. Moreover, because of the aforementioned problems, they have a tendency of further aggravation.

terferes with the affairs of the region’s and organizations’ member countries – Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Somalia.

Thus, the organization’s reforms have solved mainly superficial and structural problems in recent years. Nowadays the OIC is not able to regulate conflicts between its members. Moreover, because of the aforementioned problems, they have a tendency of further aggravation.


Bibliography

  1. Final communique of the 13th Islamic summit conference

  2. Organization of Islamic Conference. Resolutions on Political Affairs Adopted By The Eleventh Session Of The Islamic Summit Conference” (Pdf)

  3. Organization of Islamic Conference. Resolution No. 10/37-Pol On The Aggression Of The Republic Of Armenia Against The Republic Of Azerbaijan” (PDF).

  4. http://www.oic-oci.org- OIC official website


Author: Armine Muradyan. © All rights are reserved.

Translated by Tatevik Tumanyan.


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